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Tip: To use Pocket to save bookmarks to PEP-Web articles…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Pocket (formerly “Read-it-later”) is an excellent third-party plugin to browsers for saving bookmarks to PEP-Web pages, and categorizing them with tags.

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Desai, A. (2019). The analyst’s experience of the depressive position: The melancholic errand of psychoanalysis: by Steven H. Cooper, London; New York, Routledge, 2016, 175 pp., £135. ISBN: 1138844101. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 100(4):813-817.

(2019). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 100(4):813-817

The analyst’s experience of the depressive position: The melancholic errand of psychoanalysis: by Steven H. Cooper, London; New York, Routledge, 2016, 175 pp., £135. ISBN: 1138844101

Review by:
Anand Desai

In this deeply engaging collection of nine essays, some previously published, Steven Cooper concentrates on the working analyst’s struggle towards the depressive position through the day to day and year to year of clinical practice. At least since Racker’s (1952) work on countertransference, Cooper observes, psychoanalysis has been trying to integrate the analyst’s subjectivity into a clearer picture of the analytic situation. He takes up the contemporary analyst as a person, patient, clinician and theorist who is in a complex object relationship with all aspects of analytic work and psychoanalysis as a field. The analyst is constantly moving in and out of the depressive position, which for Cooper involves the capacity to hold limitation, incompleteness and unsettling narratives; to mourn loss, accept responsibility and self-reflect; to endure repetition, disappointment and to bear psychic pain. Cooper finds most discussions in the literature of the analyst’s limitations, failures or grief limited to the context of countertransference problems or questions of technique. But he is interested in a more sustained, explicit immersion in the analyst’s subjectivity, particularly his shifting feelings and fantasies about analytic goals and process, success and failure. Writing in a necessarily personal register, with experience, sensitivity and range, and taking for granted that analysis is more difficult for the patient, Cooper grounds the reader in detailed clinical material and discussions that illustrate his clinical theory and creativity. These essays are devoted to sustaining and thinking about the tensions, paradoxes and disturbing truths that colour psychoanalytic work.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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